WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It can take as little as a few seconds for an eight-year-old black lab name Remi to sniff out an SD card or even a cell phone.
“Remi looks for electronic devices that may be hidden,” said Lee Eaves.
Eaves is Remi’s handler
“We trained Remi a little bit different than other dogs,” said Eaves. “There’s about 70 dogs in the U.S. and we trained her on actual real devices.”
While she loves to play, when it’s time to work, she’s ready to go.
“She detects a certain chemical that these electronics give off,” said Eaves.
Her job is a crucial part of the sheriff’s office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
“Every case brings dozens to hundreds of thousands of child exploitation images that we have to look at,” said Paul Lusk.
Lusk is a detective with the task force. Their team works to investigate child exploitation cases across Williamson County.
“The trade of that kind of material has turned into, trade for trade and you have to trade some to get some,” he said.
Lusk says the number of cases they worked for the entire year of 2017 was just a handful, but every year the number increases.
This year, the task force already has worked on well over 100 cases.
“It’s going up and up just with the advancement of technology,” said Lusk.
But Remi has been a big help over the years. This summer she was able to help seize over 26 terabytes of electronic devices leading to 15 indictments.
“Just having her as an option where we feel like if maybe we missed something we can bring her in and let her do a secondary search to make sure that that we haven’t missed anything brings piece of mind,” said Lusk.
The work this task force does isn’t easy, but thanks to Remi, they’re working hard to track down criminals lurking on the web.
“She’s not happy when she’s not coming to work, and she’s not happy when she’s not working,” said Eaves.
Remi also serves as an emotional support dog for the task force and victims.
Lusk says online gaming does put children at risk of being exploited by an adult because it’s hard to control who children are talking with online.
He advises parents to monitor that as well as look into parental controls for their children’s phones too.
Lusk says monitoring children’s online activity as well as limiting it to certain times of the day, and not allowing them to chat online with people they don’t know are his biggest pieces for parents when it comes to making sure their children avoid being exploited over the internet.